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Ecstasy

Bad thinking leads to bad results.

Previously, I’ve stated that my primary purpose in life is to achieve joy.

In the foundational post on this blog, I state:

 I choose joy as the primary purpose of my life. I specifically choose the word joy instead of other similar words such as happiness. In my usage of joy, I mean something more enduring than simple pleasure.

My Definition of Joy: An enduring sense of contentment, measured not in each moment, but as a dynamic summation of experience. The constituent parts of joy include instances of happiness, sorrow, pleasure and pain, boredom, excitement, leisure and work. Joy is the result of life well-lived, adjusted by experience to achieve a net-positive sentiment. It is an expression of my desire.

Scratch that. It has not produced desirable results.

The Poverty of Joy

Recent events have caused me to stop and measure how well I am achieving that goal. In the process of asking this question, I’ve spent time analyzing the target itself. Is joy the right focus?

My experience over the past several years leads me to conclude that aiming for joy has left me unfulfilled, protective of small success, and fearful of loss.

As I’ve defined it and subsequently lived it, I’ve come to understand that a pursuit of joy is really a pursuit of safety. It is cautious and conservative. It seeks merely to sustain a net positive result. It is a guard against failure rather than a celebration of success. It is small.

100%

My lived experience of 51% joy and 49% pain does not feel prosperous. Why should it? 51% to 49% is within any reasonable margin of error, and so, half my life is lived in pain. I’ve been looking for a 2% margin of victory. Fail.

Inherent in my view has been a fight against scarcity, the feeling that I am guarding against lack and loss. Fighting off death. Building barricades. At war with sadness. I’ve created space for lack and sorrow, built it right into my view of my life and made it a partner in my pursuit. I’ve given platform to that which I claim not to want.

Creation

Sustainability is inherently conservative, and thus, inherently regressive. An attempt to conserve will always breed loss. Conservation seeks to maintain the status quo, an attempt to hold on to that which we have is protective, not creative.

We cannot be creative with that which already exists. Creation must involve the new, that which we dream of but don’t yet experience. The Universe is expanding, and therefore, conservation will always fall short of a changing reality.

And, what is the emotion of creation?

Ecstasy

I will now replace my pursuit of joy with a pursuit of ecstasy.

  • Joy, ecstasy, happiness, all can be right or wrong life aims, depending on how we understand them. If they are understood as flourishing in compassion and creation beyond present capacity, they are the right aims. If they’re understood as anything less then they’re the wrong aims.

  • Just happened upon this in a book I’m reading tonight: “But feeling okay most of the time is a negative feeling, because feeling okay is not feeling good! Feeling good means feeling good!”

  • Charles Strouss

    Harvard Psychiatrist George Vallaint wrote an interesting book called “Spiritual Evolution: How we are wired for faith, hope, and love” which discussed certain human emotions, along with the brain structures unique to the mammalian nervous system which he believes gives rise to them, and which can be considered to form a reasonable biological basis for spirituality. The “positive” emotions he chose as part of the mammal spiritual canon are love, hope, joy, forgiveness, compassion, faith, awe, and gratitude.

    In any case, trying to define a value system based on just one of these emotions seems a little limiting to me, and I’m not surprised that choosing one as an ultimate goal might lead to some disillusionment.